WPI Team Received $1.6 Million Grant for Neurological Disorders Study

A team from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), an NEC member, recently received a $1.6 million award from the National Institutes of Health to study gender disparities in neurological disorders.

The team of researchers, led by WPI Assistant Professor of Biology and Biotechnology Jagan Srinivasan, will study a species of worms in which most are self-fertilizing hermaphrodites, but a small number are solely male. The researchers will study the neural activity of the worms based on their gender differentiation, specifically focusing on a cluster of neurons that give the worms the ability to “smell” environmental cues. The researchers will focus on this cluster because an early symptom of Alzheimer’s in humans is a diminished sense of smell. The hope is that by studying the differences in olfactory systems between the genders, the researchers can gain new information that could be relevant to studying human neuropathology.

“The new project seeks to image multiple neurons, in multiple worms, responding to multiple stimuli in real time. And we know the responses will be different in each animal,” said WPI Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Dirk Albrecht. “That means we need to develop new technologies to push the existing boundaries of imaging throughput and analysis to handle the experimental load. That makes this an exciting and important challenge.”

The New England Council congratulates WPI on receiving this new grant that will allow the research team to study gender disparities in neurological disorders. Read more in Worcester Business Journal and WPI News.

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